In Thessaloniki for a greek weekend and a wedding, I had a chance this morning to visit the city's archaeological museum. I was not expecting much, although I had a vague recollection that the area is rich with old archaeological sites and tombs, many of which were unearthed in pristine state. Hence I was extremely happy of the wealth of sculptures, jewelry, vases, and objects of all kinds, especially ones from the pre-Ellenistic period.
The collection of jewelry and gold and silver coins was impressive; by itself it was well worth the visit. But two things really made my day: some incredibly beautiful vases from Chios, and the Derveni papyrus.
There has been much public condemnation of the destruction of the Temple of Bel
at Palmyra by Islamic State (IS), as well as the wider devastation being inflicted on the cultural heritage of Syria and Iraq by both IS and its opponents in Syria’s civil war.
Both Syria and Iraq are party to all relevant treaties protecting cultural heritage, but this has not stopped the rampant violations. This implies that the problem doesn’t lie with inadequate laws, but rather with compliance and enforcement.
Images of the systematic destruction of archaeological sites and art pieces in Syria are no news any more, but I was especially saddened to see before/after aerial pictures of Palmyra's site today, which demonstrate how the beautiful temple of Bel has been completely destroyed by explosives. A picture of the temple is shown below.
Archaeologists have found evidence of an ancient gold trade route between the south-west of the UK and Ireland, which would mean people were trading gold between the two countries as far back as the early Bronze Age, 2500 B.C.
The finding was made after measuring the chemical composition of early gold artifacts in Ireland and discovering that the objects were actually made from imported gold, rather than Irish. The gold is most likely to have come from Cornwall, which means the symbiotic link between Ireland and England is even farther back then believed.Lunula and discs. Credit National Museum of Ireland
Remarkably similar carvings and simple cross sculptures mark special sites or places once sacred, spanning a zone stretching from the Irish and Scottish coasts to Iceland. We can look to Skellig Michael, which rises from the sea 12 kilometers off the southwest Irish coast; to Aird a’Mhòrain on the Outer Hebridean island of North Uist; to the Isle of Noss, Shetland; and to Heimaklettur cliff face in Iceland’s Westman Islands.
Also in southern Iceland, a number of the 200 man-made caves found there are marked by similar rock-cut sculpture. And these dark remote places suggest a different answer to a puzzle that we thought we had solved a long time ago.
If you like mummies (and who doesn't like mummies?) you are in luck: The Anatomical Record has a special issue with 26 articles devoted to them
, all open access. You may not leave the house this weekend.
Mapping archaeological digs used to take plenty of time and a lot of measuring, photographing, drawing and note taking, much of which can now be done with a technique called photogrammetry.
Photogrammetry is a method that uses two-dimensional images of an archaeological find to construct a 3-D model and it doesn't require special glasses or advanced equipment. Coupled with precise measurements of the excavation, photogrammetry can create a complete detailed map of an archaeological excavation site while being more precise than older, more time-consuming methods.
This method is already being put to use by archaeologists. When a possible Viking grave was found in Skaun in Sør-Trøndelag in 2014, the excavation site was mapped using photogrammetry.
A detailed analysis of the remains of a high-status Danish Bronze Age female, known as the Egtved Girl, has revealed information about her movements, what she ate, and where her clothes came from.
The Egtved Girl, a 16–18 year old female, was discovered in the Danish village of Egtved in an oak coffin, calculated to have been buried around 3,400 years ago.
Scientists have found stone tools dating back 3.3 million years, long before the advent of modern humans, and by far the oldest such artifacts yet discovered.
The tools, whose makers may or may not have been some sort of human ancestor, push the known date of such tools back by 700,000 years and may challenge the notion that our own most direct ancestors were the first to create new technology.
The discovery is the first evidence that an even earlier group of proto-humans may have had the thinking abilities needed to figure out how to make sharp-edged tools. The stone tools mark "a new beginning to the known archaeological record," say the authors of a new paper about the discovery.
It's a First World Idyll that ancient indigenous people sustained themselves using nature's bounty, in harmony with the land.
Science knows otherwise. Instead, from Alaska to Washington, indigenous people created productive clam gardens to ensure abundant and sustainable clam harvests. There was nothing natural about it.